Oh the weather outside is frightful, ‘tis the season in Wisconsin’s capital city! We’ve curated a little list of some festive activities happening here in Madison and the nearby, surrounding area during the month of December to get you, your family, and your friends in the holiday spirit.

Holiday Tree in the Wisconsin State Capitol

Every December, a tall evergreen stands in the rotunda in the Wisconsin State Capitol. This tree is not only decorated with thousands of twinkling lights, but ornaments that are handmade by children all across the state.

Zoo Lights (Henry Vilas Zoo)

Open through December 30th, the Henry Vilas Zoo is decking its halls with holiday light displays amongst the animal exhibits we already know and love. In case you are wondering, yes the carousel will be running, and you can even get your photos taken with Santa Claus himself.

Shop Small on State Street

The energy on Madison’s famous pedestrian thoroughfare hits different this time of year. The street lights are adorned with glowing snowflakes and fragrant evergreens, and the shop windows are decorated in a warm, wintry style for the holidays. There are many small businesses located along and near this renowned downtown neighborhood, so why not support them with some holiday shopping for your loved ones? There’s something for everyone.

Holiday Fantasy in Lights

This free, favorite event begins in November, but in case you needed a reminder that the light displays at Olin Park are still happening this month through early January. Stay cozy and warm in your vehicle as you drive through this large-scale expression of holiday cheer

Christkindelmarket Paoli

German Christmas Markets or “Christkindelmarkts” have been a historically popular tradition in Europe that are now gaining popularity in North America. Paoli is now participating in this tradition by holding their own Christkindelmarkt at Seven Acre Dairy. Stroll along the festive marketplace with various local vendors and artisans with a warm, holiday beverage along the Sugar River. This event is happening this weekend starting Friday, December 8th and through Sunday, December 10th.

Holiday Express Model Train and Flower Show

Through December 31st, visitors of Olbrich Gardens can experience their annual Holiday Express Model Train and Flower Show. Guests can watch full-scale model trains travel through festive scenes of evergreens and poinsettias designed by Olbrich’s horticulturalists.

Miracle on King Street

Lucille, a favorite eatery near the capitol square is once again getting into the holiday spirits (see what we did there) with festive, vintage decor and holiday cocktail specials through December 24th. Happy Hours will be daily from 3-6, and holiday movies will play on Sunday evenings.

Cookie Walk

Your name doesn’t have to be Santa Claus to enjoy a Christmas cookie. Enjoy cookie samples and cookie decorating demonstrations at participating businesses in Madison’s beautiful downtown.

For more things to do, check out the Isthmus Events Calendar and the Destination Madison Events calendar.

May your (December) days be merry and bright.